Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan deepen cooperation to combat threats posed by illicit drugs
Kabul - 28 November - Amid concerns over the rising production and value of Afghan opium, Ministers from Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan met today in Kabul to enhance responses to regional security challenges. "More than ever, we must emphasize shared responsibility in our strategies to counter shared threats", said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The parties are meeting in the framework of the UNODC-brokered Triangular Initiative, designed to strengthen drug control among the three countries most seriously affected by Afghan opium. The initiative promotes information exchange and intelligence-led operations targeting the major transnational networks, while building confidence.
More than 90 per cent of the world's opium comes from Afghanistan, with most of it transiting through Iran and Pakistan. Drugs pose a threat to the health and security of all three countries, and many others beyond. "At the International Conference on Afghanistan next week in Bonn, I hope to encourage the international community to bolster counter-narcotics as an essential element in ensuring a better future for Afghanistan and its neighbours".
All three parties have been boosting their cross-border counter-narcotics capacities. But national law enforcement authorities alone cannot effectively surmount the challenges posed by their porous borders with Afghanistan and the testing terrain. The Triangular Initiative has been gaining momentum since the launch of the initiative in 2007. Its joint planning cell has been established in Tehran to enhance analytical and operational capacity and to launch joint operations. It has notched up successes. Since 2009, 12 drug control operations coordinated by the joint planning cell have resulted in the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrest of many drug traffickers.
"But much more needs to be done," said Mr. Fedotov. "The joint planning cell must be the engine of the Triangular Initiative. Joint patrols should become routine, not exceptional events". He encouraged the appointment of permanent liaison officers to the joint planning cell and the conduct of the first joint operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a positive step forward, the Border Liaison Office at Torkham, on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, had become fully functional in February 2011, Mr. Fedotov noted.
Additionally, joint operations and patrols could be planned along key maritime drug trafficking routes. UNODC stood ready to extend legislative assistance to the parties in drug-related matters, countering illicit money flows and confiscating the assets of drug traffickers, said Mr. Fedotov.
In Vienna, Austria:
Preeta Bannerjee, Public Information Officer: UNODC